There’s a common misconception that you need a bag full of specialty shots to keep the bogeyman at bay. Truth is, four will do the trick. Here’s more good news: they all start from the same basic setup. It’s a four-for-one special that’ll save you boatloads of strokes from 150 yards and in. Here’s how to groove a reliable chip, bump-and-run, punch and knockdown in less time than it takes to rake a trap. Ready? Let’s get started.
Step 1: Meet Your New Scoring Shot Setup
Nothing fancy here, just a few simple tweaks to your regular stance to ensure you catch the ball crisp and knock it in the direction you intend.
1. Set your feet about a foot apart (even closer on chip shots), and position the ball a touch behind the center of your stance.
2. Lean your weight slightly toward your left foot, allowing your front shoulder to drop in response. This will help you correctly contact the ball first and the turf second, and avoid the amateur mistake of trying to scoop the ball into the air.
3. Grip down a solid inch on the handle, and up to three inches on chip shots. These are control swings, not power swings.
4. Pull your front foot in from the target line a few inches. This subtle move re-squares your shoulders to your target line. (When you play the ball back, your shoulders tend to close).
Step 2: Manage Your Backswing
This is easy: the shorter the shot, the shorter the backswing—and less of a need to hinge your wrists. Copy what you see here.
To hit a chip…
…stop your backswing as soon as your hands pass your right thigh. The clubhead shouldn't pass knee height. Keep wrist hinge to the absolute minimum.
To hit a bump-and-run…
…stop your backswing when your hands reach hip height. Allow your wrists to hinge slightly, just enough for the clubhead to rise slightly in the air—but don't overdo it.
To hit a punch shot…
…stop your backswing when your hands reach waist height. Allow your wrists to hinge naturally with the momentum created by the longer swing length, as in the photo above.
To hit a knockdown…
…stop your backswing before your left arm reaches parallel to the ground—about two-thirds the length of your stock backswing. Make sure to keep your weight over your front foot and allow your wrists to hinge freely. Your goal? Get the clubhead way above your hands.
Step 3: Shift Into Reverse
Once you nail these backswings, the downswing is simple: reverse the process, swinging your arms and hands back down to the ball while smoothly letting out whatever hinge you created on your backswing. Allow your lower body to turn in response, just as in any other shot.
One setup, four backswings, four shots. It’s a bargain, especially when you consider that the techniques work with every iron and wedge in your bag. With a little practice you can groove up to 44 specialty shots, depending on how many woods you carry.
Who’s the shotmaker now?